Copyright 2009 - 2016 by Mario Vaden
Lost Monarch in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park is among the 20 largest known coast redwoods. Around 2014 - 2016, various new giant redwoods were found including Grogan's Fault, Jupiter, plus more unspecified which exceed Lost Monarch in total volume or diameter. The new redwood discoveries exceed Lost Monarch whether we compare fused, multiple or single trunks. See the related page about trunks Fusion vs. Confusion
When first discovered by Dr. Steve Sillett and Michael Taylor in May, 1998 the trunk's preliminary measure was close to 26' diameter at dbh. A scientific study reported 25.26' diameter dbh which seems to exclude an extra trunk on the side. Lost Monarch's lowest twigs almost touch the ground which is very unusual among the largest coast redwoods. The crown of branches and foliage stretches about 320 ft. top to bottom, surpassing Hyperion in that regard.
I list this as approximately 6th largest rather than #1 based on previous facts, new discoveries and other reports like Forest Giants of the Pacific Coast by Robert Van Pelt. The big sprouts from the ground against it's main trunk are basically extra trees. Some people refer to them as fusions but its certain included bark is wedged between the trunks. And for this redwood, calling the big extra stem a fusion is a stretch of expression.
The second photo below shows a bright gap of sky and space between the stems. When I reviewed the April 2012 photo again during March 2016, it really hit me how correct Van Pelt was when he referred to the big sprout as a second redwood.
Michael Taylor, co-discoverer, noted that the sprout (s) account for at least 6,000 cu. ft.. If only the main trunk and reiterated wood overhead are included, the real volume is more like 36,500 cu. ft.. Measurements by researchers showed the main trunk's actual volume between 34,000 and 35,000 cu. ft. Regardless, this is an exceptionally old and remarkable size coast redwood.
Some people tallied the wood volume at 42,500 cubic feet by adding 6,000 cu. ft. from a basal redwood emerging from ground. You can see it in the photo's foregrounds. There's actually several suckers shown, some much smaller.
There's been some scuttlebutt that Sillett observed branches in the crown above 200 feet being killed by forest fire in the past and that new branches sprouted from the main stem. That would connote the crown as it exists came from epicormic sprouts. But I recall asking Sillett, and that's not exactly the story behind its shape and crown.
There are over 40 reiterated stems overhead accounting for about 400 cu. ft. The diameter of the largest single branch is 3.2 ft.. Hefty indeed, but smaller than Chesty Puller's largest branch diameter in the same grove. Once again, this shows how much interesting individuality belongs to each of the giant coast redwoods.
The base of the redwood on the ground is nearly 30' wide. Researcher Dr. Robert Van Pelt described it as "vaulting" out of the earth like a "volcano". Some of the roots are visible almost 100 feet away in boggy soil near it. Like El Viejo del Norte and Del Norte Titan, Lost Monarch is located in the forest on the opposite side of the Smith River from the campground in the the MIll Creek watershed.
Van Pelt also wrote that a couple of limbs extend almost 70 feet. Thats intriguing because on American Forests champion list, Lost Monarch's average entire crown width was 80 feet from side to side. It may remain on the American Forest champion list for quite some time, because there are multiple new redwood discoveries that we will not be nominating. Supposedly, champs on the list should be measured every 10 years, but I do not think that's going to happen either, for Lost Monarch. But AF willl probably keep it listed rather than leave a void.
This has been a challenging redwood for me to photograph. Thick vegetation blocks the view from almost every side as far as the base goes. At least for a lower trunk photo. My first encounter with Lost Monarch spent more time photographing British Soldier lichens on the trunk. The lichens were fascinating. Here was one fo the largest organisms on earth with a little army of lichens marching up the trunk.